NOMA — The victim of a multi-million dollar art theft is offering a $200,000 reward for information leading to the return of the goods.
The promise of the no-questions-asked cash comes from the other end of an anonymous hotline set up expressly for the purpose, and to hide the identity of the victim, who the L.A. Times has reported is bond guru Jeffrey Gundlach, the CEO of DoubleLine Capital LP.
The Daily Press confirmed that Gundlach does own a home on the 500 block of 12th Street, the scene of the crime, and has a publicized penchant for modern art.
Nine pieces by some of the biggest names in the modern art world were lifted off the victim’s walls between 3 p.m. Sept. 12 and 8 p.m. Sept. 14, while the victim was away.
The artwork was original and one-of-a-kind, said Sgt. Richard Lewis, spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police Department.
“One piece was worth $10 to $15 million by itself,” Lewis said.
Depending on the pieces in question, the heist could rank as one of the biggest crimes in recent history, said Robert Berman.
Berman runs Santa Monica Auctions, a local auction house that deals mostly in modern art.
Even minor drawings or paintings by names like Piet Mondrian, Richard Diebenkorn and Cy Twombly fetch a high price — major works would be in the millions, Berman said.
Still, it’s not the kind of artwork that many people steal.
When the Daily Press caught him Thursday, Berman was at an art faire in Chicago that had also been struck by thieves.
“This is contemporary art that looks like it’s not worth anything,” Berman said. “Ironically, even at the art faire here in Chicago there was a booth that had some TV monitors. Even though there were multi-million dollars worth of art, someone stole the TV monitors, but not the art.”
Fencing such unique art also presents a challenge, Berman said.
To get top dollar, a seller has to be able to say where it came from. In the case of stolen works, you’ll get a very small percentage of what it’s worth, Berman said.
If such works appear at a reputable gallery or auction, owners will likely alert the authorities.
The SMPD is working the case with the help of the Los Angeles Police Department, FBI, Department of Justice and Interpol, an international policing organization.
According to the FBI website, Interpol has a Works of Art database, the FBI has the Stolen Art File and other online tools exist like the Art Loss Register, all of which serve to alert art dealers, gallery owners and auction houses about missing and stolen artwork.
The victim also lost 40 bottles of wine worth $100,000, five expensive watches, a red 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S and a gun, Lewis said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators at (310) 458-8432, (310) 458-8453 or the watch commander (24 hours) at (310) 458-8495.
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous, can call We-Tip at (800) 78-CRIME or submit the tip online at http://www.wetip.com. Those who provide tips are eligible for a reward up to $1,000, police said. Tipsters can also contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS or by visiting their website at http://www.lacrimestoppers.org. Texting tips can also be done by visiting the website.